I’ve been on Quora lately and realized that one of the most frequently asked questions about eCommerce is about software comparison, such as Magento and Shopify.

Magento is the most popular open source eCommerce software, Shopify has gained its popularity thanks to the SaaS (Software as a Service) model. These are two radically different approaches to software development. Many people don‘t fully feel the differences in approach to software distribution model. Therefore, I will try to describe the most important aspects of the use of Open Source software in eBusiness.

Open Source ousts commercial tools

In my opinion, the current Web trend is ousting commercial tools by their open source counterparts. The idea of Open Source is based on the availability of software source codes free of charge. This allows developing software by anyone who has needs and opportunities to do so. In CMS systems commercial giants have long ceased to impress anyone. 95% of the websites I’ve worked on recently used CMS WordPress.

Competitive differentiator

The biggest advantage of Open Source is the ability to adjust the software to the specific needs of a business (like service scheduling software, etc). At the same time, you don‘t need to write from scratch what the competition can download for free from the internet. The mechanism of a shopping cart, product page, depository – the elements that are supposed to work in the same way in the given implementation will be left just as they were. We introduce changes only when we want to create a competitive differentiator. In this way, we optimally use funds allocated for the eCommerce implementation.

Independence of open source

Basing a shop on open source makes the owner independent from the implementation company. In the case of closed source, changing an IT company requires, at best, negotiating purchase terms of a source code and at worst –  rewriting the entire system from scratch (because the company can but doesn‘t have to release the source code of their application). In such case, it’s worth protecting yourself by relevant clauses in a contract. This doesn‘t change the fact that acquisition of a closed source code can be connected with significant investment on the side of a new company and may be more expensive than new implementation.

Open source is not freeware

That brings us to the point and conclusions. Open source gives you flexibility and independence but I‘m very far from saying that open source software is free software. The biggest drawback of open source is that you have to enter the software development process.

We always recommend the smallest customers software in a SaaS model, where for a small fee you get a working simple online shop and you can take care of the products, acquiring and servicing customers. However, anyone who treats their online shop seriously should look at Open Source software.

Open source – who is it for?

I would recommend Open Source to all those who are planning to run a bigger shop or those whose shop became so developed that they expect many improvements tailored to their needs. Online shopping platforms offer all customers the same features and therefore don‘t meet the expectations of more demanding customers.

Not sure which open source software to choose? We‘ve put together for you as much as 19 open-source eCommerce platforms. In case of any questions write us.

Tomasz Karwatka

Supervisory Board Member at Divante. Leading industry voice who believes eCommerce can improve our world. Co-founder of Vue Storefront and Open Loyalty, angel investor, and founder of Tech To The Rescue. CEO at Divante eCommerce Technology Company | LinkedIn | Twitter

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